Island Challenge

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The period after the Second World War in Shetland saw a continuing decrease in population. Opportunities for the young were increasingly limited. The number of native Shetlanders fell to some 17,000. The process was reversed with the arrival of offshore oil in the years following 1970. At its peak the Shetland population rose to 23,000. The problems of managing the new Shetland fell largely on Shetland Islands Council. These were varied – housing, road building, expansion in education, both staff and buildings, social provision, the protection of the environment. Firmness and competence in dealings with the oil industry and accompanied by a substantial financial settlement. The pages of this book set out in detail the events of an era unheralded in Shetland’s history. Edward Thomason was born in Lerwick in 1922. He was educated at Lerwick Central Public School followed by five years at Anderson Educational Institute. He retired in 1982 after 41 years service in the insurance industry, largely in Shetland. For the next 12 years he held the position of vice-convener of Shetland Islands Council, in 1986 succeeding A. I. Tulloch as convener. The author’s period of public service ended in 1994. His first appointment had been in Lerwick as chairman of the house committee of Islesburgh House Community Centre. He took office in September, 1946. As convener of Zetland County Council during the years 1970-73 his was the responsibility of leading the council as the community adjusted to the imminent arrival of the oil industry. In 1989 he was awarded the OBE. The period 1970 to 1994 saw a transformation in Shetland affairs unequalled in the recorded history of these islands. The author acknowledges readily the support he has had from a happy marriage, lasting at the time of writing some 47 years.